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Back Here After A Year... Doing Well, Except One Thing


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So I haven't been on here in quite a while. In the past year, I've moved on, grown more comfortable not having god be a part of my life, made changes in my personal life, moved across the country, etc. There are a couple frustrating things going on, but nothing that's tempting me to crawl back to Jesus or whatever. Except: I am still deathly afraid of going to hell. I know it's not logical, I know there's no evidence whatsoever of hell or really life after death at all, I know I'm already lined up for even worse hells according to any number of other religions, I know it's an absolutely cruel and reprehensible doctrine that no god worth worshipping would create let alone send people to. Still, I am terrified of being damned, terrified of going to hell. Right now I'm fine with my atheism, but I'm pretty sure that if, for example, the doctor called tomorrow and told me I had cancer, I would "backslide" right back to god. I know the "I'm scared of hell" topic pops up all the time here, but I guess I'm gonna broach the topic again. How do/did you snap out of this insidious belief in something so ridiculous yet so compelling? I would love to someday get to the point where I am not afraid of what comes after death.

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Why not look at it in a different way?

With all the possible alternatives to the Christian "hell", which even thay cannot agree upon, there could easily be another fate in store for you.

That fate might involve life on a completely different level or perhaps having the ability to choose your next destination.

Let's face it, life on this planet is absolute misery and suffering for many people and life forms.

Perhaps you're already in hell.

I've never encountered anyone (yet) that asked to be born.

We're basically thrown into a jungle planet environment.

 

Another way to discard the fear is to become so tired of being afraid that you no longer care what happens.

Apathy can be a powerful sedative and calming agent.

Just tell yourself that you're not going to spend your days jumping through any more theological hoops.

I used both approaches and they helped in my case.

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Death is all the rage. Everyone's doing it! Until somebody proves different, I think of it as a very long nap.

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Don't worry. Hell does not exist. It's just so illogical.

 

That's what made me stop bothering about the afterlife.

Noone knows what's going to happen for sure-sure, but it doesn't seem likely that a deity is going to sort us into good and bad, give the goodies a lolly and spank the naughties. Just seems juvenile. Surely an allknowing awesome creator would be more nuanced than that?

 

Hell is just a 10th century fling. Even the catholics are mumbling "oh maybe it didn't exist after all ahem #oops#vaticanklulz#popzdititagain"

 

Hell is just in your head. You'll be fine.

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I'd like to ring the necks of those bastards who came up with ridiculous concept of hell so a to threaten people into submission. If I were god I'd create a hell just for them.

 

I'm sure you already know that god, knowing everything, including the future, would have to have created all humans with the purpose of sending  the vast majority of them to hell. What sense does that make?

 

I hope you can gain control of your Xtian demons and enjoy the freedom you are entitled to.   bill

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Thanks guys :) It doesn't usually enter into my thoughts, but ever so often I get into a mood like that and I just wish I could completely convince myself it's just fairy tales. I mean, I know it's just fairy tales, but I BELIEVED it so hard and for so long that it's basically ingrained in me. Un-brainwashing is hard, haha. Do any of you know of any good books on the history of the idea of hell (in Christianity)?

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So I haven't been on here in quite a while. In the past year, I've moved on, grown more comfortable not having god be a part of my life, made changes in my personal life, moved across the country, etc. There are a couple frustrating things going on, but nothing that's tempting me to crawl back to Jesus or whatever. Except: I am still deathly afraid of going to hell. I know it's not logical, I know there's no evidence whatsoever of hell or really life after death at all, I know I'm already lined up for even worse hells according to any number of other religions, I know it's an absolutely cruel and reprehensible doctrine that no god worth worshipping would create let alone send people to. Still, I am terrified of being damned, terrified of going to hell. Right now I'm fine with my atheism, but I'm pretty sure that if, for example, the doctor called tomorrow and told me I had cancer, I would "backslide" right back to god. I know the "I'm scared of hell" topic pops up all the time here, but I guess I'm gonna broach the topic again. How do/did you snap out of this insidious belief in something so ridiculous yet so compelling? I would love to someday get to the point where I am not afraid of what comes after death.

You still have some work to do.  Rational thinking is your ally.  Be patient.  Try to quantify the indoctrination and peer pressure you already were subjected to.  Measure that against the amount of free thinking you have employed.

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I think the horrible, fearsome places we conceive of in our minds pale compared to actual experience of horrible, fearsome places. Would be dictators have everything to gain by telling stories about lakes of fire and devils sticking pitchforks up your ass or whatever, that'll scare people into obedience and paying taxes or tithes. The only real hell that we know about is the hell we humans experience here on earth in the form of war, disaster, famine, plague and whatever else. 

The hell we experience as a result of sin comes in the form of guilt and remorse for things we've done, retaliation from people we've hurt or legal penalties. 

Then there is the common use of hell in disputes between people. "I hope you burn in hell!" "To hell with you!" i.e one man's vague, desperate attempt to get even with someone who has hurt them, by wishing harm upon them. 

 

Whatever happens to us when we die has nothing to do with leaders trying to scare people into obedience or enemies wishing harm upon one another. Since common sense says none of us can possibly know what is in the afterlife, if we did all go to some lake of fire when we died that would be a complete coincidence.

Nobody knows what is in the afterlife, nobody knows how many different afterlives there are, nor what determines which afterlife we will be sent to. People who claim different deserve a big YAWN! right in their face and a casual "Shut up". 

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Thanks guys smile.png It doesn't usually enter into my thoughts, but ever so often I get into a mood like that and I just wish I could completely convince myself it's just fairy tales. I mean, I know it's just fairy tales, but I BELIEVED it so hard and for so long that it's basically ingrained in me. Un-brainwashing is hard, haha. Do any of you know of any good books on the history of the idea of hell (in Christianity)?

 

I never was afraid of Hell as a Christian, and somehow that never bothered me while I was deconverting, either. The idea just sort-of disappeared along with the idea that there was really a god.

 

However, there's something I learned along the way that might be helpful to you: There's no Hell in the Old Testament! The Jews did not incorporate the idea of eternal punishment into their religion until the time between the testaments. The threats of punishment in the OT are either right now, as in capital punishment for an individual, or for the nation being taken into captivity. The Law of Moses only specified punishments to be inflicted by the people, never the threat of eternal burning in Hell.

 

They picked up the ideas of eternal reward and punishment from the Persians. To me, that proves a several things. First, it proves Hell isn't real. Second, it proves that the religion was man-made in the first place. Finally, it proves that Jesus, if the gospels portray him even remotely accurately, was just a man as well, because he believed in the Hell that had only become a part of the Jewish religion a couple of centuries before his birth. (In other words, religion was a cultural thing for him, just like it is for people today.)

 

Hope that helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

shades, what I did was found other forces besides hell and held to them instead - forces common to everyone, universal things, good things like how mostly people try to help each other.  Explore that particular thing, it takes you to a deep and vast truth about people where hell doesn't exactly have a place.  By immersing yourself in other "realities," ways of thinking/being which other people are familiar with and share together, you will find the options a bit easier to move to.  

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It's just the conditioning reasserting itself. Read Marlene Winell's book "leaving the fold" if you havne't already.

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Look at it this way, you are damned.

Even if you backslide back to God, there is still a probability that that God isn't the right one, and you'd end up facing 50 other probable mythical hells.

 

Think a bit deeper on it, and you'd realize 2 things.

1 - There is no way around it.

2 - There isn't a hell.

 

You'll get to the point of not being afraid of hell, when you realize that what you believe and how you conduct your life is honest, and not worthy of torment. 

 

Judge yourself, and find peace with your decision and outlook on yourself. 

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^ Yeah, what he said. Even if you're "right" with the Christian God, now you gotta fear all the other religions' Gods and their hells for not worshipping them! Better start reading up on every single religion invented! Or you could just forget them all and live your life without giving heed to the threat of hell fire and eternal damnation. That's the best way! :-)

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So I haven't been on here in quite a while. In the past year, I've moved on, grown more comfortable not having god be a part of my life, made changes in my personal life, moved across the country, etc. There are a couple frustrating things going on, but nothing that's tempting me to crawl back to Jesus or whatever. Except: I am still deathly afraid of going to hell. I know it's not logical, I know there's no evidence whatsoever of hell or really life after death at all, I know I'm already lined up for even worse hells according to any number of other religions, I know it's an absolutely cruel and reprehensible doctrine that no god worth worshipping would create let alone send people to. Still, I am terrified of being damned, terrified of going to hell. Right now I'm fine with my atheism, but I'm pretty sure that if, for example, the doctor called tomorrow and told me I had cancer, I would "backslide" right back to god. I know the "I'm scared of hell" topic pops up all the time here, but I guess I'm gonna broach the topic again. How do/did you snap out of this insidious belief in something so ridiculous yet so compelling? I would love to someday get to the point where I am not afraid of what comes after death.

 

I've been dead twice. No hell, no heaven, no tunnel of light. I was awake and aware both times. Once I was on an operating table and I went into heart failure during a heart cath [where they stick this thing into the artery of your leg and push it up into your heart to have a look around]. I was through the operation and they brought me back out of anesthesia, and my heart decided it didn't like having an anal probe and stopped working. The other time was in a hospital bed shortly after that happened when my heart decided it wanted to go about 180bpm until it wore itself out and stopped again. It wasn't a simple matter of being knocked out, I was stone dead for a few minutes both times.

 

It was blissful silence. I was aware of nothing until I came too again. Once it was immediately after, and the other was three days later with a breathing tube shoved down my throat. There was no dream, no family, no light, no fire, no demons. Just darkness and quiet before I stopped being aware of anything.

 

It actually was a lot like going to sleep and not dreaming.

 

You've got nothing to be afraid of. I've been there, and it's nothing special. Based on the evidence I've seen with my own eyes so to speak, you won't care when you die. You just stop and that's all there is to it.

 

Having been there, it's not all that scary anymore. I mean, not fun or anything, but I don't see it as anything to really waste time worrying about anymore. Once it happens, I won't care because I simply won't be anymore.

 

Honestly, I see that as the best case scenario. Existing forever would suck no matter how nice a place you were in. It would eventually lead to insanity and suffering. I'm just fine with what I now know about death. It's not a point of worry, though I'm not going to turn into an idiot and throw my life away doing stupid things either. I'm not looking forward to it or anything, but I've lost my fear of it now and I'm okay with that.

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The idea of hell is from ancient religions and in the middle ages the church brought in the doctrine of purgatory, where you suffer for awhile and then go to heaven.  However, you could buy these things called indulgencies which forgave your sins (for a hefty price) and you would enter heaven directly.  There are books where people have died for a couple minutes and went to heaven or hell but there are similar issues with a condition called sleep paralysis in which you basically are paralyzed in that twilight area between being awake and asleep and you hallucinate. this has been documented for centuries. But there is a pattern:  in the 1700s, people saw witches floating above them, in modern times they see aliens. It is all psychological.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am sorry for your fears...but the best thing for them, I think, is to read a lot about how different religions got started and how different versions of hell have evolved from different faith viewpoints. You will begin to clearly see that it is just yet another man made fairy tale. It is no more real than the land of Oz or Pan's Never Never Land or another mythical place in fiction.

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However, there's something I learned along the way that might be helpful to you: There's no Hell in the Old Testament! The Jews did not incorporate the idea of eternal punishment into their religion until the time between the testaments. The threats of punishment in the OT are either right now, as in capital punishment for an individual, or for the nation being taken into captivity. The Law of Moses only specified punishments to be inflicted by the people, never the threat of eternal burning in Hell.

 

They picked up the ideas of eternal reward and punishment from the Persians. To me, that proves a several things. First, it proves Hell isn't real. Second, it proves that the religion was man-made in the first place. Finally, it proves that Jesus, if the gospels portray him even remotely accurately, was just a man as well, because he believed in the Hell that had only become a part of the Jewish religion a couple of centuries before his birth. (In other words, religion was a cultural thing for him, just like it is for people today.)

 

Exactly!

 

I'll share how I've tackled the issue. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote a couple years ago (the whole letter is 49 pages long):

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The Lake of Fire

 

The Bible says that "the beast" and "false prophet" will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev 19:20), and that "the devil" will also be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" and that they "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev 20:10). After that we read that "death and hell" and "whosoever was not found written in the book of life" will be "cast into the lake of fire," which it also calls "the second death" (Rev 20:14-15). Though it doesn't specify here, one would assume that this implies that everyone thrown into this lake of fire would also be tortured forever, just like it says will happen to the beast, false prophet and devil. Granted, Revelation is highly symbolic, so one could argue that this is not meant literally, especially given the reference to a "second death." For the sake of this writing, though, I will treat it literally, as traditional Christians tend to do.

 

As a side note, many confuse "hell" with the eternal "lake of fire." However, as can be seen from the statement that "hell" will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14), they are technically not the same thing in the Bible. "Hell" here is the Greek term "Hades," which was used for the grave, the nether world, the realm of the dead. But, since most people think of "Hell" as the lake of fire, from here on out that will be what I am referring to when I use the capitalized word "Hell" in quotes. So, let's move on and take a closer look at the concept of eternal torture and what the Bible has to say about "Hell."

 

To hear Christians talk, "Hell" is one of the most important topics in Christianity. Indeed, what we supposedly need saving from is "Hell." Yet, if "Hell" is such a hot topic (pun intended), and burning eternally is the final punishment for the wicked, then why is the concept of the lake of fire completely absent from the Old Testament? Sure, the word "hell" is found in the KJV Old Testament, but it is the Hebrew word "Sheol," which means the grave, the underworld, the abode of the dead, a pit. Though there are several places where the Old Testament refers to "fire" symbolically, there is no place in it that says anything about eternal torture in fire (when preachers use Old Testament verses to prove "Hell," a quick look at the context always reveals that they mean something else).

 

In the Old Testament, the punishment for wickedness is said to be death (Eze 3:18-19; 18:20,24; 33:8-14; Psalm 37:20; Prov 2:22). Beyond that, Isaiah says, "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise" (Isa 26:14). Daniel contradicts that by saying, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan 12:2), but though it doesn't fit with most of what we see in the Old Testament, even this verse doesn't say anything about torture.

 

There is a significant Old Testament verse to mention, though. Jeremiah says, "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter" (Jer 19:6). In this verse, "The valley of the son of Hinnom" in Hebrew is "gay ben Hinnom," or "gay Hinnom" ("The valley of Hinnom") for short, and is the basis of a later Greek word "Gehenna" that referred to a valley south of Jerusalem where they reportedly burned trash, dead animals and at times the corpses of executed criminals. This "Gehenna" is translated "hell" in the New Testament.

 

So, for clarification, there are two Greek words translated "hell" in the New Testament. "Hades," as mentioned previously, refers to the grave or the netherworld. "Gehenna," on the other hand, was the city dump where refuse was burned. (The Greek word "tartaroo" is also translated "hell," but it's only used once in the Bible and its meaning is comparable to "Hades".) Now let's look at a few uses of "Gehenna."

 

When we read, "Whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt 5:22), that "hell fire" is referring to the burning dump south of Jerusalem. So is the statement, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members (body parts) should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matt 5:29-30). When we read, "Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell" (Luke 12:5), that is again using the burning city dump for imagery.

 

In addition we read, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44). This is an often cited passage about "Hell," but let's dig deeper. Not only is this using the imagery of "Gehenna" discussed above, but it is based on an Old Testament quote that says, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24).  What is being talked about here is clearly not eternal torture, but simply mounting corpses. The worm not dying out is meant in reference to constantly having rotting corpses to eat on. Whatever "fire" may be referring to here, it is clearly not depicting the "Hell" that Christianity teaches.

 

Again, if "Hell" was such an important topic, then why would God avoid making mention of it throughout the entire Old Testament? Why repeatedly warn of death as punishment if eternal torture was really the punishment? With the complete absence of "Hell" in the Old Testament, and the idea growing out of the imagery of a burning city dump south of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom in the New Testament, isn't it quite clear that "Hell" is merely a doctrine that evolved over time?

 

Beyond that, what about the ethics of "Hell"? How can justice be served by inflicting infinite torture as punishment for finite infractions? How is being burned forever a befitting discipline for mere mortals? What loving father would ever do such a thing? Would any good judge ever issue such an unfair sentence?

 

Jesus supposedly said that "whosever believeth" in God's "only begotten Son" will "have everlasting life," and that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:16,18). In Christian theology, that condemnation is "Hell." However, what about all the people who die having never heard about Jesus? What about people raised in different cultures far removed from Christianity, those who are indoctrinated with other views (through no fault of their own) to the point that that they cannot believe Christianity when presented with it? What about the many, many people throughout the ages who simply never had the opportunity to believe in Jesus?

 

Some Christians try to weasel out of that dilemma by suggesting that God is just and will deal fairly with those other people. They may even cite the judgment based on deeds that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:31-46. While that may seem to be a noble thought, it is flat-out contradicted by the very quote from Jesus listed above, that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:18). If one doesn't believe, then he's condemned, with no recourse. Besides, there are other logical problems with this argument. Since it indicates that belief in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation, then what's the point in evangelizing and sending out missionaries? That's commanded in the Bible, of course, but it would be rather pointless if it was true that God would judge everyone justly anyway and that believing in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation!

 

In addition, what about other people, such as myself, who know the story of Jesus quite well but study Christianity and honestly conclude that it is without merit? With regard to us, as well as the aforementioned people who never heard of Jesus or who were already indoctrinated with another religious view, how could a loving God condemn such people to eternal agony when God himself has refused to show himself? If the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God of evangelical Christianity existed and wanted to have a relationship with every person, then there would be no question that he is real and Christianity is true because he would make it clear! Yet the majority of people in the world have not been convinced of such. Where is this Christian God who is supposedly reaching out to everyone?

 

Another common Christian response is to bring up the quote, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Thus, it is argued, nobody has an excuse for not knowing, because "the creation" around us is proof. But is it really? If this verse was true and the natural world we see clearly depicted the Christian God, then everyone who looks at nature would automatically be convinced of the Christian God! Yet, throughout the world there are varying cultures with different religious views, and many of those people look at the exact same nature and see evidence of their gods! And other people look at nature and see no evidence of any god at all! How could this be if "creation" was so clear regarding the Christian God? Obviously, this argument from "creation" is simply false.

 

Think about this. You were raised in a Christian culture that convinced you that Christianity is true, but in the same way people raised in a Muslim culture are convinced that Islam is true, and people raised in a Hindu culture are convinced that Hinduism is true, and so on and so forth. The fact is that people's religious beliefs are primarily dependent upon demographics instead of logic, reason and indisputable evidence.

 

You cannot believe Islam to be true because you were programmed to believe Christianity. But the opposite is also true: Those who are programmed to believe Islam simply cannot believe Christianity. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you had been raised and indoctrinated with Islam, and therefore you could not believe Christianity? That would be no fault of your own; it would simply be the result of being raised in that culture. Would it then be fair to torture you in "Hell" forever and ever and ever, with no mercy and no relief, simply because you did not believe something that you had no ability to believe? Do you not see the absurdity and injustice in that? Do you really believe that a righteous, loving God would do that to his creation?

 

You've heard about "cruel and unusual punishment." Indeed, when someone commits a crime, we expect them to be punished, but we expect the punishment to be in accordance with the crime. However, how could any criminal deserve being tortured forever and ever and ever? We are mere mortals with a very limited life-span, so how could anything one does be worthy of unending agony? Such torture would be "cruel and unusual punishment"! And, again, the idea of issuing such punishment for a lack of belief by those who can't believe is even more problematic.

 

Clearly, any God who would torture people like that would have to be sadistic and unjust, because only a sadistic monster could be so cruel! To call any such God "good" is ridiculous, and is an insult to all that is good.

 

Given that the unjust nature of the doctrine of "Hell" is incompatible with the idea of a loving and just God, and given the way the Christian doctrine of "Hell" evolved out of the imagery of a burning city dump outside Jerusalem, it becomes quite clear that "Hell" is not something revealed by God, but merely a morbid myth that developed over time and became useful for scaring people throughout the ages.

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